‘You’ve turned my world upside-down.’ Howell man harassed by fake sex offender notices

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A criminal investigation is underway to determine who sent out fake sex offender notices to a Howell man’s neighbors – falsely accusing him of committing a crime.

Mike Stahnten owns Certified Auto Mall on Route 9. He prides himself on his reputation but someone is trying to destroy it with a letter that looks like an official sex offender notification as sent out under Megan's Law.

"At first look, it looks decent but once you actually read it, you can tell it wasn't written by anyone with intelligence,” Stahnten says.

Howell police have recovered 20 letters, which detectives will use to trace the sender. They were mailed to each of Stahnten’s surrounding neighbors and the local school but not his home.

The envelopes and letterhead both say, “State of New Jersey,” and look as if they came from the Office of the Attorney General. The letters say, “A known sex offender, who meets certain criteria has moved into a neighborhood.” The letter then states that its purpose is so that neighbors can, "take necessary steps to protect the children or women in your care."

Police say that it was easy to tell that the letters were fake. Real notifications are sent from the county prosecutor and not Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. The letters are not dated and there are grammatical errors. Chief Andrew Kudrick says that he wants all the letters so they can be checked for fingerprints.

“That’s why we told our residents, if they come across this, handle it as little as possible,” Kudrick says. “Give us a call, we will come pick it up.”

And as for a possible motive?

“Could be a land dispute. Could be a customer dispute…It’s just an evil and very cowardly act,” says the chief.

Stahnten says that he certainly isn’t a sex offender and hasn’t even so much as gotten any points on his driver’s license. He says that he isn’t sure who is targeting him.

"I hope you find some peace in this. You've turned my world upside down. But it won't stop my family or business from continuing,” he says.

Whoever sent the letters could face forgery and harassment charges. They may also face federal charges since they used the mail to commit a crime.

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